What is the poker news story of the year for 2009? Is it Swedish online poker pro Isildur1 igniting the high-stakes cash game world? Is it the World Poker Tour (WPT) being sold to Party Gaming? Is it something else? Poker News Daily’s staff evaluates the nominees.

In a poll posted on Poker News Daily asking readers to choose which of five news stories was the most important of 2009, an overwhelming majority picked the high-stakes cash game action featuring Isildur1. Others selected Joe Cada becoming the youngest winner of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, while many readers picked the delay of mandatory compliance with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Also receiving votes were Party Gaming’s purchase of the WPT and the sudden closure of several high-profile poker rooms.

We asked each of our writers to select one option and argue why it is the top poker news story of 2009. Here’s what they had to say. Don’t forget to voice your choice in the poll to the right of this article.

Isildur1 Ignites High-Stakes Poker Scene
By Brett Collson

With the Durrrr Challenge moving at a crawl and the rest of the nosebleed games on Full Tilt Poker lacking in attendance, it appeared that the online high-stakes action was deteriorating in the fall of 2009. That all changed when an unknown Scandinavian with a seemingly bottomless bankroll appeared out of nowhere to take on anyone up to the challenge. Isildur1 shocked the world when he exploded onto the scene in November, recording multi-million dollar wins over Tom “durrrr” Dwan, the man we all perceived to be unbeatable. Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and many others took notice and sat down with the Swede, resulting in swings that the online poker world had never witnessed before. At one point, Isildur1 had a profit of around $5 million, but after a number of losing sessions and a record-setting match against Brian Hastings, he was stuck nearly $3 million in a matter of weeks. While his masked emergence may have been brief, the mysterious Isildur1 changed the dynamic of high-stakes poker on the internet.

Joe Cada Becomes Youngest WSOP Main Event Champ Ever
By Jessica Welman

While Isildur1’s online run was impressive and the UIGEA delay was important, ask the casual poker fan what happened this year and they’ll likely cite the 2009 WSOP Main Event final table. This year’s November Nine had everything – big names, great stories, broken records, and a lot of suckouts. Fans were surely sad to see Phil Ivey bust in seventh place, but young Joe Cada has proven to be a more than adequate ambassador, as he brought poker to the mainstream media with appearances on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” CNN, “WWE Monday Night Raw,” “ESPN SportsCenter,” and Time Magazine. “The Kid” and his fellow November Niners captured the attention of people who typically didn’t give poker a second thought and took huge strides towards taking the game out of the backrooms, out of cyberspace, and into the spotlight, which no other poker headline was able to achieve in 2009.

WPT Sold to Party Gaming
By Earl Burton

There are several reasons why the sale of the WPT to Party Gaming is the top story of 2009 in poker. The most important reason is that, for the first time in its illustrious history, the WPT is now on a firm financial footing with an organization that can promote it to the fullest. In the future, with Party Gaming’s financial backing, there shouldn’t be problems securing tournament venues or television contracts. With the ability of Party Gaming, through its online poker site PartyPoker, to provide satellites for players to earn their way into events, tournament fields will probably grow in the coming year, potentially even returning to the “glory days” of a few years ago before the UIGEA. These and many other reasons should continue to keep the WPT in the same stratosphere as the WSOP and makes the sale of the WPT to Party Gaming the top story of 2009.

UIGEA Compliance Deadline Delayed
By Dan Cypra

I wonder whether I would even be here right now if the UIGEA regulation compliance date of December 1st had stood. The online poker industry in the United States, which feeds live tournaments around the world, could have potentially come to a screeching halt. Although nobody knows for sure what the real-world implications of the delay will be, the actions by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke essentially preserved the status quo for another six months until June 1st, 2010. The delay marked the most important legislative development since the UIGEA was passed in 2006 and should be the most important poker news story of the year.

Pitbull Poker/Eurolinx/BetOnBet Closures
By Tom Jenkins

The closures of a handful of notable online poker sites represented a dark chapter of 2009. Pitbull Poker, Eurolinx, and BetOnBet all shut their doors to the general public, with thousands of poker players potentially out money as a result. Given the circumstances surrounding their closures, one can easily see why the very foundation of the online poker world could be disrupted going forward. Players must be able to trust that their money is safe when they deposit online given that very little punishment exists for wrongdoing by poker rooms. The wave of closures may ultimately lead to industry consolidation in 2010 and beyond, making this one of the top news headlines of the 2009 calendar year.

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